During the lead up to the NFL draft, there were countless comparisons made involving Baker Mayfield.
They ran the gamut from very flattering (Super Bowl winners Russell Wilson and Drew Brees) to fair (former Pro Bowler Jeff Garcia) to frightening (notorious bust Johnny Manziel).
All of those quarterbacks were undersized playmakers, just like Mayfield, but the Manziel comparison had many layers to it.
The two went to high schools fewer than 100 miles apart and then went on to record-setting careers in college, where each claimed a Heisman Trophy.
Manziel was drafted by Cleveland in the first round in 2014 in hopes he’d be the Browns’ savior, and now the same expectations are being placed on Mayfield after he was the first overall pick in this year’s draft.
But despite all of the similarities between the two, Mayfield is trying to distance himself from Manziel, as he told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.
“It’s understandable, obviously. First-round picks by the Browns, close to the same size, playmakers … But we’re two completely different people,” he said. “I care about winning. I care about doing things the right way. I just want to be judged for who I am.”
While both have similar profiles, their paths to the NFL were quite different. Manziel spent just three years in college and played for only two of those seasons.
Mayfield spent five years in college after starting his career at Texas Tech and then transferring to Oklahoma. He wasn’t able to land a scholarship with the Sooners and began his career in Norman as a walk-on.
He then made history by becoming the first player to win a Heisman after starting as a walk-on — and then made more history by becoming the first former walk-on to be the top pick of the NFL draft.
Mayfield had to work his way up to achieve everything he’s done so far, while Manziel seemed to just get the keys to the car handed to him in both college and the NFL.
That will be no different for Mayfield in the NFL, as he’ll have to work his way up the depth chart with the newly acquired Tyrod Taylor having been named the starter.
#Browns coach Hue Jackson re-iterated that he'll resist the temptation to throw Mayfield in too soon and Tyrod Taylor is the starter
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 28, 2018
“I know exactly what they said, and I absolutely respect that,” Mayfield said about coming in as Taylor’s backup. “That’s a veteran that’s been in the league. He’s a guy that I could sit behind and learn from.”
At the NFL combine, Mayfield said he is not going to settle for a backup job, but he has appeared to back off that statement a bit.
“For me, when I say those type of things, it’s because I’m competitive,” he said. “If I came in with the mindset of just being happy I got drafted and just to settle for a backup job, that wouldn’t be myself. I’m going to come in with the mindset to compete but also with the hunger to learn from a guy that’s been in the league, that’s seen things that I haven’t seen. I’ve said multiple times that the best thing to happen to me throughout this process at Oklahoma was sitting for the year after I transferred.”
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